Eli, Archie Manning figure into Chargers-Saints history
By John Burress
It all goes back to Archie Manning.
As quarterback of the 70’s Saints (‘Aints…fans nickname for Saints as they wore paper bags over their heads during games) during one of the worst runs in NFL history. There was no way the eldest Manning was going to let Eli go through the same thing. Thinking the Bolts were not the best landing spot for Eli, he counseled his son to do everything possible to stay out of San Diego. The Chargers knew this and could have gone a different direction in the draft by taking the second best player on their board which was probably tackle Robert Gallery (bust). A.J. Smith stuck to his guns and drafted Eli. Trade made: Eli to Giants, Rivers to Bolts. Was Archie right? Maybe. One factor in their decision must have been that Drew Brees was already there. Where would Eli fit in? In New York he was an immediate starter.
Rivers is now a back-up… for 2 years. San Diego can’t afford to have 2=two high-priced quarterbacks on the roster at the same time and they found a way out. Brees played under the franchise tag in 2005 and in the last game of the year against Denver, he fumbled and was hit to the ground by John Lynch. With Brees lying on his side, defensive tackle Gerard Warren intentionally landed on him, damaging his rotator cuff and tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder. The Bolts offered him a $50 million incentive-filled contract. He refused and hoped the Bolts would increase the offer. They didn’t. Rivers was now the starter. Brees was an ‘Aint.
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Le’s examine this. Eli has two rings, Drew has one. Philip, zero. In my opinion, Brees and Rivers are much better quarterbacks while Eli’s been on better teams, although it’s hard to find a better team than the Chargers from about 2005 through 2009. How the Bolts didn’t get into a Super Bowl during this run is hard to understand. Makes Archie’s counseling and Eli’s decision seem pretty smart. Anyway, it seems you can’t find a team anywhere in the league that doesn’t have an ex-Charger as a significant contributor at some point. Is this true of all teams? How many ex-Steelers or Patriots do you see around the league? A few, but not players having the impact that guys like Brees, Sproles (Saints, Eagles) and Vincent Jackson have had. Even Junior Seau and LaDainian Tomlinson ended their careers elsewhere.
Finally, the Chargers are snakebit. They can’t go through a game without a major injury, but it seems it’s not just the Bolts facing this problem. Is it just me thinking this, or are injuries increasing around the league, at least to key players? King Dunlap gets sick, Antonio Gates misses a game, Manti Te’o lost for the year along with Keenan Allen and Danny Woodhead. Tough season, especially when the Chargers could as easily be 3-0 as 1-2. Frustrating year so far, but the Bolts have the talent to go on a run and get well past the .500 mark with a few breaks the next few games. Especially since they still have Rivers. He’ll always be one of my favorites. It all starts this Sunday with the Saints, or ‘Aints, if you prefer.